SAN ANTONIO — Danny Green has one great skill, and fortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, he revealed it at the right time Thursday.
Green, an adept 3-point shooter, made three long-distance shots in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 110-95 Thursday in the first game of the NBA Finals.
The 26-year-old guard scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter.
Last year, Green made set an NBA Finals record with 27 3-pointers in San Antonio’s seven-game loss to Miami.
“That’s what he does,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “If he’s not going to do that, then we might as well play somebody else. That’s the honest to God’s truth.”
The Spurs finished with a 31-9 run. They hit 14 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter, including all six 3-point attempts.
The game was played under horrible conditions. The air conditioning at AT&T Center malfunctioned because of an electrical failure, and temperatures on the court reached above 90 degrees.
Miami forward LeBron James clearly struggled with the heat. He scored a game-high 25 points but was forced to leave the game a few times because of cramps, a condition he endured in the past.
When James departed with 7:31 remaining, the Heat led by two points. He returned briefly but then left for good.
James was receiving treatment after the game and did not speak to the media.
“We’re used to having the hotter arena at this time of year,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But both teams had to deal with it.”
The temperature affected James more than anybody, though.
“It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping back to the bench,” Spoelstra said. “At one point, he was getting back up with 3 1/2 minutes to go. I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t even think about it. You can’t even move.'”
Heat guard Ray Allen pointed out that other factors contributed to the defeat.
“We made mistakes,” Allen said. “We didn’t execute at both ends.”
The Spurs won despite committing 23 turnovers that Miami converted into 28 points. The Heat made 18 turnovers that San Antonio parlayed into 27 points.
Forward Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 21 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds. Guard Tony Parker produced 19 points and eight assists. Guard Manu Ginobili contributed 16 points and 11 assists.
The Spurs trailed by seven early in the fourth quarter but rallied behind Green. After missing all five of his shots from the field in the first three quarters, Green made four in a row midway through the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers.
“Honestly, the way he shoots the ball, I assume every time he shoots it it’s going in,” Duncan said. “We want to get him as many shots as possible.”
San Antonio committed nine turnovers during the third quarter, and Miami turned them into eight points. James and forward Rashard Lewis made two 3-pointers apiece in the quarter.
Allen, renowned for his conditioning, looked like a man much younger than his age. The 38-year-old made three driving shots in a span of less than a minute in the third quarter, including a soaring dunk.
Allen finished with 16 points. Heat guard Dwyane Wade scored 19, and center Chris Bosh finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Duncan scored 15 first-half points as the Spurs took a 54-49 lead at halftime. He converted six of seven shots from the field before the break.
Ginobili had a hand in 16 of the Spurs’ 26 points in the first quarter. He hit three of four 3-point attempts and had three assists. One led to a 3-point basket by guard Patty Mills.
The Spurs made seven of 14 3-pointers in the first half, 13 of 25 in the game.
James led the Heat with 13 first-half points. Allen hit three 3-pointers and scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter.
The Heat were five of 13 from 3-point range in the first half, 12 of 29 overall.
Miami surged in the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs by nine points. San Antonio then overwhelmed the Heat 36-17 in the fourth.
Now both teams get a rest before Game 2 in AT&T Center on Sunday.
“I’m sure both teams are going to be happy to have a couple of days before the next game,” Popovich said. “Hopefully we can pay our bills.”
NOTES: The Heat are in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season, a feat last accomplished by the Boston Celtics from 1984 to 1987. … The Spurs reached the Finals for the sixth time since F Tim Duncan joined the team for the 1997-1998 season. Until this season, though, the Spurs never made the Finals two years in a row. … Miami, the two-time defending NBA champion, is trying to become the first team to win three titles in a row since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000-2002. … The Spurs’ reserves outscored the Oklahoma City subs 51-5 in the decisive Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Saturday. The 46-point advantage is the largest for the Spurs during a season in which they led the league in bench scoring. San Antonio’s reserves outscored Miami’s reserves 34-20 Thursday. … Longtime NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday.
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